Wednesday, 20 March 2013


It was a sleepless night, the one I spent after walking Little Miss Mexico home. I knew so little about her and wanted to know more. 
 She had told me she had studied medicine in Madrid to become a doctor but had abandoned that when her father died. She now worked as an auxiliary nurse in a Malaga hospital during the week and Nerja at week ends. I wrote little that made sense the following day and, that evening I went out on the town with the sole intention of looking for her. I knew she didn't  like the local Spanish places and, sure enough, found her in a more sophisticated bar frequented by foreigners. 
 She was alone, sitting on a high stool, talking to the barman, her jet black hair hung down in curls, she was wearing a blue blouse, white jeans, a thick leather belt round her tiny waist , a large leather handbag hanging from her shoulder on a strap. 
 When she saw me she jumped down from her perch and came to greet me with a kiss on both cheeks. 
 'Can we go to Torremolinos ?' she asked me straight away
 'When ?' 
 'Now ! To 'Barbarelas', it’s a disco. Fantastic music. I really want to go.' 
 I hesitated. It was a two hour drive, already ten o’clock, but we were in Spain where people never sleep and I didn’t want her to be reminded that I was over forty. I said yes. 
 She chatted all the way, about her work at the hospital which she didn’t like and her duties as the local practicante giving injections to all sorts of people. She had punctured the bums of nearly every high minded councillor at one time or another, even the very fat Mayor’s.
 At 'Barbarelas', she went straight on the dance floor and gyrated to the thumping music. I lamely followed, waved my arms about feeling completely out of place and uncomfortable. I had been good at the tango and pasa-doble back in the Pau Casino days, had loved holding my partners close during slow fox trots or even waltzes, but there was none of that now. Couples exercised in front of each other never touching, and I felt awkward and clumsy imitating them. When the music eventually slowed down and I was able to hold her by the waist, it became obvious we were a poor match. My chin rested on the top of her head.
 When the place closed at 6 am and we ambled back to the car I asked her if her mother would be angry at her being so late and she said she had told her she was staying with hospital friends in Malaga. So we went back to my flat and slept together. At mid day she brought me a cup of coffee, tidied up the kitchen, mopped the floor, and left her toothbrush ( which she always had in her bag ) next to mine in a mug. 
 Unforeseen and unplanned, Maribel and I became recognised as a unit. As in many small communities, individuals seen together more than once were automatically coupled, like Jack and Jill. Thus in Nerja there was Eve and Easy Rider, Joy and Al, Nancy and Jake, Chuck and Rosie and so on. Gossip would then be rife if one partner was seen with someone different , 'It’s Nancy and John now,' or 'It’s Chuck and Laura, hadn’t  you heard ?'
 'Maribel and Drew' were now invited out as partners to the surprise of many including myself. Though I was not always keen to go to American cocktail parties when one had to dress up, or Spanish beach parties when one had to dress down or English barbecues where one ended up with a headache due to drinking too much. I went along because my new energetic other half loved it all and would have gone without me if I had refused, possibly meeting a younger man, a risk I did not want to take because I had become very fond of her, though I was not admitting it to her, or even myself..     
 We fell into a fairly regular routine. Maribel went to her Malaga hospital every day leaving me to write in peace,  then she came to the flat around eight. Very soon her mother heard that she was having an affair with a married foreigner twice her age who had two children and whose wife was a hippy living in sin with an American drug addict. Understandably displeased, she made her objections known which only encouraged  Maribel to break more conventions. At weekends she blatantly stayed all night with me, causing added furore, till I decided to meet the mother in order to show her that I was not the devil incarnate. In her dark and depressing apartment decorated with pictures of the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ , crucifixes and statuettes of saints, I handed this solidly built white haired widow the peace offering of a bunch of flowers and she politely offered me a peach liqueur. She rattled off a volume of sentences very loudly - the majority of local Spaniards shouted at the foreigners believing it made their language clearer - and I did not understand a word, but my visit worked wonders with the nosey woman next door who let it be known to the world that I was a very acceptable, well meaning 'caballero' in whose company innocent young Maribel would come to no harm. 

  It became clear to me, however, that I was not behaving very responsibly. The John Lindsays had returned to America, the Frigiliana house was empty, sooner rather than later we would have to return there and get our family life back on a normal footing which would make my situation with Maribel impossible. 
  I agonized over what to do, finally coming to the distressing conclusion that she and I should separate. We were heading towards a more permanent relationship which could not be. She was too young. I did not want to contemplate a divorce that would inevitably hurt the boys and the longer we stayed together the more hurtful the break would be. 
 One morning, gutted in advance, I suggested a walk to tell her of my decision. I prepared the ground as gently as I could, she sensed what was coming, we sat down on the beach in the bright morning sunlight and I explained that as a married man with two children I could not consider a future with her, we had to part and delaying the awful day would only increase the pain. 
 She gripped my arm tightly, desperately tried to hold back the tears but could not. I got up immediately, kissed her on the top of the head and walked quickly away before she could see that tears were also welling up in my eyes. 
 The depth of sadness I felt after only a few paces away from her was so unbearable that I stopped in my tracks, knew that if I turned round to look at her it would be fatal, but glanced over my shoulder all the same and saw this small vulnerable little girl curled up on herself, hugging her knees, rocking herself and sobbing with such grief, that I just could not bear it. 
 So I ran back to her. 
 If in the few minutes before we had both experienced a destructive heartbreak, the following few minutes were filled with ecstatic joy. 
 'I don’t know how it’s all going to work out,' I said, 'but I can’t leave you. It must be love'
  Which it was.

Maribel age 22

1 comment:

  1. "Very soon her mother heard that she was having an affair with a married foreigner twice her age who had two children and whose wife was a hippy living in sin with an American drug addict."

    This sentence is just brilliant. You cracked me up.

    I love the pictures of a dark haired Melissa...